VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie visits LA
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie visits VA West Los Angeles Medical Center
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Robert L. Wilkie, visited the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System Dec. 10 to speak with hospital administrators, community leaders and meet with Veterans and employees.
"Highlighting our initiatives and programs during Secretary Wilkie's visit to the medical center is a win-win for our facility, Veterans and staff," said Ms. Ann Brown, director VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. "I'm especially excited to share the efforts of our homeless Veteran program. The staff who work with our most vulnerable Veterans are true professionals and dedicated to helping Veterans."
"Now that I have had the opportunity to talk with those who are on the front lines of taking a holistic approach to solving this issue. I thank VA staff for their work." Secretary Robert L. Wilkie
During a tour of the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center campus, Secretary Wilkie, visited the Welcome Center (homeless program), and met with Veterans at their permanent supportive housing residence. In addition, Secretary Wilkie, along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, stopped at the construction sites for temporary bridge housing on the WLA campus. In a first of its kind partnership, VAGLAHS, is partnering with the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles to provide a safe facility for homeless Veterans to temporarily reside while working towards permanent housing.
"I've shared my concerns about the issue of Veterans facing homelessness in West Los Angeles," the Secretary said. "Now that I have had the opportunity to talk with those who are on the front lines of taking a holistic approach to solving this issue. I thank VA staff for their work."
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block also met with the Secretary to discuss and further develop the unique partnership between the university and the VA, which has already established the UCLA School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic and the UCLA VA Veteran Family Wellness Center to support Veterans and their families.
Rounding out the visit was a stakeholder engagement with local Veteran Service Organization leadership, non-profit and community partners. Secretary Wilkie shared some of his key focuses for the VA including customer service, business transformation, accountability and VA's Mission Act and electronic health record.
"We are on the cusp of the most transformation in the history of VA since Omar Bradley occupied the desk that I now occupy," the Secretary said referring to General Bradley's appointment to head of the VA following WWII. "VA is not capable nor is any government capable of reaching everyone we should reach which is why our partnership with you all are absolutely vital."
Secretary Wilkie noted how the electronic health record, because of its interoperability, would prove particularly useful at medical centers like West LA where there are increasing Veteran opioid concerns. Anyone encountering the Veteran like the local pharmacy, the local doctor, emergency room, or the community care hospital, will now have access to the Veterans VA record.
"It keeps VA at the center of the Veterans health," he said.
Sergeant Major Andrew Strauss USA (Ret.) representing the Enlisted Association of the National Guard Area VII, voiced his staunch support for the electronic health record and felt the meeting with the top VA brass was valuable. Strauss was encouraged when the Secretary said leaders at the VA and Department of Defense were "joined at the hip" with regards to the electronic health record.
"His reply to our questions about how he's going to get more involved with DoD and VA, that's very important for our soldiers and airmen," Strauss said. "Very worthwhile."
"Veterans have done everything that we've asked them to do," Secretary Wilkie said. "Medical care at the VA is the best in the country... I'm honored to be a part of this team."